This afternoon, delegates from the United States, Mexico, Central America and other international partners discussed the key to ensuring security in the region: strong judicial systems that prosecute crime thus deterring illegal behavior. The U.S. commended regional governments' fight against corruption at all levels of society, which demonstrates a commitment to governance, transparency, and strong institutions.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin co-hosted the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami, Florida on June 15-16, 2017 with Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray Caso, Interior Secretary Osorio Chong, and Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade Kuribeña, and attended by President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, and Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador.
Citizens deserve the right to live free of violence, and free of the threat of violence in times of peace. With this in mind, this afternoon featured a session on improving public safety in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Panelists discussed this topic in the context of regional security and cooperation, building upon earlier discussions about combating organized crime and transnational criminal networks and enhancing border security.
Neither the United States nor its Latin American neighbors can have peace or prosperity until they get control of the illegal drugs that flow among them, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told regional leaders as the second day of the Conference on Security and Prosperity in Central America got under way Friday.
One of the greatest threats to security in the Western Hemisphere is Transnational Criminal Organizations, or TCOs. With no regard for human life, TCOs move anything and everything through their dark networks—including weapons, counterfeit goods, and smuggled and trafficked persons. They play a large role in the North American drug epidemic—a crisis that claimed more than 60,000 lives in 2016, the highest level in history.
Americans’ appetite for illegal drugs is one of the driving factors behind violent competition among drug cartels in Central America. Victims of that violence often seek refuge across the southern border of the U.S., but Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says immigration policy north of Panama needs to change. He discusses plans to slow the flow of people from Central America entering the U.S.
But before I begin, allow me to address the attack that took place yesterday in our Nation’s Capital. President Trump and I were deeply saddened when we were informed yesterday morning that a gunman had opened fire on the Republican congressional baseball team, injuring five people as they practiced for tonight’s annual charity baseball game.